South Devon College offers the support every apprentice needs

South Devon College was recognised for its Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Apprenticeships last year

South Devon College was nationally recognised for its Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Apprenticeships at last year's FE Week AAC Apprenticeship 2020 gala event held in Birmingham. - Credit: www.petermedlicott.com

South Devon College supports thousands of apprentices of all ages through their studies every year, in industries as diverse as health and care, hospitality right through to engineering. 

Courtney Slater, 18, from Paignton, is currently enrolled on an apprenticeship in engineering with EFFECT Photonics, based at the Epic Centre in Paignton.

After completing her GCSEs, Courtney knew she wanted to pursue a career in engineering, so she decided to apply for a week’s work experience at EFFECT Photonics during her summer break, to get a feel for working in the industry.

This proactive approach paid off for Courtney and she was offered an apprenticeship at the end of the placement.

Courtney Slater is an apprenticeship in engineering with EFFECT Photonics, based at the EPIC Centre in Paignton.

Courtney Slater is an apprenticeship in engineering with EFFECT Photonics, based at the EPIC Centre in Paignton. - Credit: South Devon College

Her experience so far has been positive, and Courtney finds the combination of one day a week at college and four days at work a great balance: “The key benefits for me are to see what I learn at college being put into practice. I find sometimes when you learn skills at college you don't necessarily see how it's applied in a real world situation, so going through an apprenticeship really shows you how everything is linked together."

South Devon College offers the support every apprentice needs.

“I get a designated person that's in charge of my apprenticeship, who writes regular reviews. They have meetings with me and my boss and we talk about what I’m doing well, what they expect from me in the future and then we clear up any issues that I have.”

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When asked about her days at college, Courtney replied: “I find the college days in class a great way to really relax. it's nice to step out of work and be able to learn more, and the way that teachers present our lessons is great; they make them as interactive as possible.

"Teachers are really good for helping if you're stuck, they're more than happy to go over things.”

Courtney believes her apprenticeship training has helped her progress within her job role: “I definitely feel more fulfilled now at work since I started my apprenticeship and it's great to see what I’ve been learning at college come into work and be used; I can see that I have actually learnt new skills.

“Hopefully I will finish this four-year apprenticeship with Effect Photonics and afterwards go on to do a university course, to become a robotic engineer.”

Offering advice to others thinking of starting an apprenticeship, Courtney said: “Go for it, it's a great opportunity. But look around to see what's out there and maybe do some work experience first to make sure it's definitely the industry you want to go into.”

Paul Harrison, operations manager at EFFECT Photonics, said: “EFFECT Photonics have been partnering successfully with South Devon College over the last four years. All apprentices continue to play an integral part in the development of a photonic manufacturing capability in Torbay.

“Engaging with the apprentice program has enabled tailored development of our resources to meet both current and future needs. 

"Graduates of the program have moved in to full time roles within the business.

"Some have continued on to higher level programs at South Devon College whilst others have chosen an alternative pathway.

"The breadth and depth of the programs has provided exposure to a range of departments and functions. 

"This has led to opportunities in associated fields such as Quality Assurance Engineering.

"South Devon College are currently developing Professional Development programs specifically for Photonics.

"We already have a number of employees on these pilot programs and will be fully supporting higher level degree level apprentices to develop our tech and engineers of the future.”

Interested in taking advantage of increased Government funding for apprenticeships? Get in touch - email employers@southdevon.ac.uk